Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014 National Book Award News

April 1st is the start of the National Book Award process for 2014. Publishers can begin submitting books for consideration and the National Book Foundation, which administers these awards, announced their list of judges this morning.

National Book Awards are given in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature. The majority of judges are accomplished writers within their genre, but the Foundation decided to open the decision process last year to include other experts.

This year's list is available here.

I was asked to be one of the judges in the Young People's Literature category. On behalf of Little Shop of Stories, I feel considerably honored (and a little out of place) to be included with such renowned individuals.

This will be an amazing year of reading. I am looking forward to this immensely.

- Dave

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thank You, James Patterson!!!

James Patterson is perhaps the second best-selling author in the history of publishing. (J.K. Rowling is, after all, richer than the queen.) He is best known for his crime thrillers such as the Alex Cross series. But he is also a force in children's books with his Maximum Ride series and I Funny and I Even Funnier (with Chris Grabenstein), among other titles.

Last fall James announced that he was giving away $1 million of his own money to support independent bookstores.

Wow, we thought, How cool is that!

His only stipulations appeared to be that the bookstore was a viable business and that it had a children's section. (Little Shop of Stories is, after nearly nine years, finally viable, and we do indeed have a lot of children's books.)

To request a grant all we had to do was send in a letter of no more than one page.

Little Shop does a good number of bookfairs at schools in and around Decatur -- some as far away as north Fulton. Several years ago we thought it would be great if we could afford a pickup truck to haul books. As we also send a good many authors out on school visits, the idea gradually morphed into a bus. Then to getting a little old school bus and then converting it into some kind of bookmobile.

So that was our request. It was going to happen eventually, but it would happen a lot sooner with his help.

This morning James Patterson publicly announced the distribution of the first wave of grants -- 55 bookstores (and one regional organization of bookstores) will be receiving a total of $267,000.

And Little Shop of Stories is on the list!

The check came yesterday. There are no stipulations. There are no strings attached.

So ... we're buying a bus. We have absolutely no idea what we're doing, but we'll figure it out.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Little Shop is Closed Today

Out of concern for the safety of all of us who work at Little Shop, we're going to be closed today.

Keep safe and warm!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Little Predictions

Some groups of friends sit around and predict who will win the Grammys. Others gather for the Oscars.

The nerds at Little Shop sit around and guess who will walk away with the big awards in children's literature. They will be announced later this morning by the American Library Association.

Here are our picks for the two awards we focused on:

Caldecott Medal (in order of probabilty)
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (the only book in either category that everyone picked)
Journey by Aaron Becker
Bluebird by Bob Staake

Newbery Medal (we couldn't find consensus on a winner here)
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata and Julia Kuo

Good luck to all these deserving authors and illustrators (and to all the other deserving authors and illustrators that we didn't pick to win)!


We didn't do great. Mr. Tiger did not win, but Aaron Becker did win a Caldecott Honor for Journey.

Kate DiCamillo received yet another Newbery Medal, this time for Flora and Ulysses. Kate had previously won a Newbery Medal for The Tale of Despereaux and a Newbery Honor for Because of Winn-Dixie in addition to a Geisel Medal for Bink and Gollie, a Geisel Honor for Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, and was a National Book Award Finalist for The Tiger Rising. Earlier this year Kate was named the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Library of Congress. Wow!!!

Tim Federle received an Odyssey Honor for the audio book edition Better Nate Than Ever, which he also narrated.

You can find all the 2014 ALA award winners here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

2013 Little Awards (for Big Books)

Each January, we anxiously wait for the American Library Association (ALA) to announce its awards for the best books of the year. Some years we celebrate in agreement. Some years we are confused. But regardless of the outcome, we at Little Shop of Stories always have our own opinions about which books deserve to be recognized. As such, we began to issue our own awards last year.

While thinking about the criteria for our awards, we wanted the books selected to reflect the fact that we work at a children's bookstore. We are not librarians, we are not teachers, and we are not parents trying to get our third graders to read War and Peace. We are not held accountable to state standards, core curriculum, or required reading lists. We are booksellers. Our sole purpose is to get kids excited about reading and to become lifelong lovers of books. Our staff reads because we love books and we love kids, and we love talking to kids about books we love. The winners of these awards are engaging, innovative books that we can't stop talking about. They are not just books we love, they are books we know kids will love.

There were some quirks this year. One Chapter Book stood out above all others and there was no consensus after that. As such, no honor awards were given in this category. We did issue an award in the category of Graphic Novels for the first time, though the winner could have fit comfortably among the Young Adult winners.

2013 Little Awards
(for Big Books)
Picture Books  

Winner: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)

Honor: Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Dan Santat (Chronicle Books)

Honor: Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell (Hyperion)

Chapter Books

Winner: Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein (Random House)

Graphic Novels

Winner: Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)

YA Books

Winner: Criminal by Terra McVoy (Simon & Schuster) We should note that Terra works at Little Shop of Stories. This fact did not sway opinion in the slightest. Criminal is a great book. Period.

Honor: Far Far Away by Tom McNeal (Random House)

Honor: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin's Press)

Most Engaging (Person Who Often Shows Up in Place of an) Author

Daniel Handler, spokesperson for Lemony Snicket, author of the All the Wrong Questions series (Little, Brown)

As we said earlier, our sole purpose is to get kids excited about reading and to become lifelong lovers of books. And although Little Shop was deeply saddened that Lemony Snicket did not make his promised appearance in Dectaur, Mr. Snicket's representative was quite engaging. In fact, I would venture to say that everyone that had a chance to meet Daniel Handler was quite impressed; I might even venture to say delighted. It is certainly an experience that we will not soon forget. His morose fa├žade did not fool us.  Mr. Handler had the entire audience, young and old, captivated. Fans of A Series of Unfortuante Events flocked to the store in droves as did fans of Snicket's new series, All the Wrong Questions. Mr. Handler's larger than life persona continued from the stage to the signing line where he took his time harassing each fan in his offbeat idiosyncratic manner. Thank you, Daniel Handler for such a fun visit, and we welcome you to return any time. You may even tell Mr. Snicket that we would prefer to have you in the future. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Third Annual Decatur Root Beer Festival -- This Sunday!!!

Third Annual
Decatur Root Beer Festival
Sunday, October 20, 2013
2 to 4 p.m.

There's lots new this year.

First, we're moving the Root Beer Festival to the day after the Decatur Craft Beer Festival. Parking and accessibility to the shop are major issues during the Beer Fest, but not a problem on Sunday at all.

I believe that this is the final list of beverages that are going to be poured:

A&W Root Beer
Boylan Creamy Red Birch Beer
Boylan Root Beer
Bulldog Root Beer
Dang's Butterscotch Root Beer
Dr. Brown's Root Beer
IBC Root Beer
Jones Root Beer
Krista's Do-It-Yourself Root Beer
Sioux City Sarsparilla
Virgil's Root Beer
Virgil's Special Bavarian Nutmeg Root Beer

Americana Huckleberry Soda
Boylan Creme Soda
Ginger People Ginger Beer
Jones Cream Soda
Red Rock Golden Ginger Ale
Reed's Cherry Ginger Brew
Reed's Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Cream Soda
Reed's Premium Ginger Brew
Reed's Raspberry Ginger Brew
Reed's Spiced Apple Cider
Regatta Ginger Beer
Sprecher's Orange Dream Soda
Virgil's Orange Cream Soda

Some of these are in very limited supply and may not be available during the time you do your tasting.

Not a single one of these beverages contain caffeine. Nearly all are sweetened with pure sugar cane. (The highly commercial sodas, such as A&W, use high fructose corn syrup. You'll notice the difference.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The 2013 AJC Decatur Book Festival Is Almost Here!

The 8th AJC DBF is coming up this weekend and promises to be perhaps the best ever. art | DBF, new tracks, Books as Art, and two new stages at the beautifully remodeled Decatur Recreation Center are all fascinating additions this year.

There is amazingly great programming on the Children's and Teen Stages again this year. It's truly an embarrassment of riches. You can check out the list of authors and illustrators here. More detailed information and Saturday's complete schedule is on the DBF website here and Sunday's here.

And there's more.

The Friday Kidnote Address at 5pm in Agnes Scott College's Presser Hall will be given by the creator of the beloved Strega Nona books, Tomie dePaola! His newest: Strega Nona Does It Again. The 2013 On The Same Page book will be revealed at this event as well.

Tickets for Tomie dePaola are still available at Little Shop of Stories. Even if you do not get a ticket and want to come, please come to Presser Hall.

And more.

Friday's Keynote Address at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts at Emory University will be given by Congressman John Lewis, author of a graphic biography, March. Mr. Lewis, along with his collaborators, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, will also be at the AJC Pavilion on Saturday at 1pm. Please note that all tickets for the Keynote Address have been distributed.

But there's more.

Saturday Children's Parade will be lead by Caldecott Medal winner Jerry Pinkney. Sunday's parade features Origami Yoda dude Tom Angleberger.

But there's even more!

Susan Cooper
At 10am on Saturday at the Decatur Recreation Center stage, Gennifer Choldenko, Susan Cooper, Christopher Paul Curtis, and Kirby Larson will comprise a panel to discuss The Big Shiny Sticker: An Insider's Perspective on the Newbery Medal. This will be moderated by children's author Laurel Snyder.

Also at the Rec Center on Saturday -- at 4:15pm -- the program Celebrating 75 Years of the Caldecott will feature Peter Brown and Jerry Pinkney, with Laurel again serving as moderator.

On Sunday at 3:45pm at the Rec Center, Martin Luther King, III will present his new children's picture book, My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 And throughout the weekend try to figure out ..!

Where's Waldo?

He'll be at the AJC Decatur Book Festival -- but you'll have to find him! Pick up a postcard entry form at the Children's and Teen Stages, the souvenir booth, festival welcome booths, or at the Decatur Visitor's Center and look for FIVE Waldos hidden all around the festival. Turn in your completed entry form at the Teen Stage for a chance to win some awesome prizes!